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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Perfection Series II: Moses And Elijah

Over the past three years, I have written on perfection and the seeking of perfection. Some people have thought that this great search is optional. Others have thought it is impossible.

Some people think is it a selfish endeavor (?), as if the seeking of perfection is merely for self-help, or some personal gain.

No, the pursuit of perfection is the pursuit for God, Who Is Perfection. We become like God, participating in the Divine Nature, through grace. When we seek perfection, we are seeking God.

I am meditating on Moses and Elijah today.

When Moses had to flee from Egypt, into Sinai, he was not seeking God. He was being drawn to God by God. God was calling him to purgation and perfection.  Purgation came in the long weeks in the desert, before he came upon the daughters of Jethro. Purgation continued in his long days in the desert as a husband and then, father. Purgation came to him in the encounter with God in the Burning Bush. Fire has always been a sign of purging. Burning metals makes them purer. Boiling water kills germs. Fire of purgation is the great symbol, if not the reality, of purgatory.

Before the Presence of God in the Burning Bush, Moses was faced with his own imperfections, his own limitations. This encounter with God began a long working out of Moses’ perfection.

We tend to think of Moses’ activity and role in freeing the people from Egypt, of setting the People of God free, as the culmination of his perfection. No, it is part of his own purification.

When Moses had to return time after time to speak with Pharaoh, Moses had to learn to rely on God more and more. He spent hours in prayer, listening, trying to understand the plan of God, which he finally did.

In Sinai, Moses became more and more perfected. He was separated for some time from his wife.  The Jewish tradition, and I accept this, is that Moses, once having encountered the Living God, chose a celibate life.

He become God’s own person, and in that process, became not only a great friend of God, but more and more like God.

By the time Moses walked up the mountain to receive the Commandments, He was in a state of Illumination and then Union with God.  In the Jewish tradition, when Moses died, St. Michael and Satan fought over his body. Why? Why was the body never found?

Moses appeared with Christ in the Transfiguration with the prophet Elijah, who left this earth in a fiery chariot. Therefore, Moses was in heaven body and soul. This could only have happened if Moses, through purgation, reached a height of perfection which allowed this unusual privilege.
The Transfiguration reveals Christ in glory, with Moses and Elijah. Those two men had to be in glory to join Christ.

The road to perfection varies with each person. The road to perfection involves purification of the senses and the soul. That these two men were present on Mount Tabor indicates that they had been set aside for a special role in the Church.

These men had found God, and they had been found by God, as examples for us on the road to perfection.

Their entire lives were centered on the One they loved.  God called Moses and Elijah to reach a level of perfection, to share in the Divine Nature is a unique and special manner.

This level of perfection is union with God as much as a person can experience on this earth. That these two men were taken up to heaven body and soul also makes us think of our own destiny, which is eternal life, finally when our souls and bodies are united.

The road to perfection is not a self-centered focus, but the seeking of Love, Who Is a Person.

The seeking of perfection is the seeking for God Himself.

The Transfiguration was an event not merely for Peter, James, and John, but for us, who have been given sanctifying grace, just as Moses and Elijah were granted a special grace.

Now, this grace is not only for two or three select men or women, but for all. This is God’s desire that all men and women are saved, that they all respond to grace. Not all will do so, which is their tragedy.

Garrigou-Lagrange writes that the seeking of perfection, which is our job on earth, takes daily focus.

Do not let moments pass by and pay attention to graces, daily.